Art Garfunkel once envisioned a simple life as a mathematics teacher. He earned a master’s degree and was well on his way to becoming a Ph.D. That plan was derailed when he and Paul Simon became famous as the folk-rock duo Simon & Garfunkel.
“What Is It All but Luminous: Notes from an Underground Man” is a charming book of prose and poetry printed in a digitalized version of his handwriting. In it, he reveals his thoughts and feelings about his turbulent life.
Garfunkel’s accomplishments are many: With Paul Simon, he won six Grammy Awards, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. As a solo singer, he scored three Top 20 hits. He also won acclaim for his film roles in “Catch-22” and “Carnal Knowledge.”
In 1970, S&G broke up after dominating the pop charts for five years. In 1981, he performed with Simon before more than 500,000 fans in New York’s Central Park and belted out his signature vocal “Bridge over Troubled Water.” In 2010, he temporarily lost his voice due to a vocal cord problem and struggled to regain it.
His poems in “Luminous” are witty, candid and wildly imaginative. He comes through as a highly intelligent man trying to make sense of his extraordinary life.